A wet spring could mean very bad news for Minnesota lakes and rivers. Record blooms of toxic algae have been predicted to blanket lakes throughout the Midwest and a parasite known as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) threatens to hop the border from Wisconsin to Minnesota.
The Midwest Lakes Policy Center is predicting a record number of harmful algal blooms due to the massive amount of fertilizers and nutrients that made their way into various watersheds from run-off and flooding. Blue-green algae, commonly known as scum, contains phytoplankton that release biotoxins while decaying. High-levels of the toxins have been known to cause damage to wildlife, pets and humans.
Flooding throughout southern Wisconsin may have spread another water-borne menace. VHS is an invasive species first detected in the Great Lakes in 2005. The virus causes bleeding and hemorrhaging of infected species and has resulted in large fish kills in the Great Lakes basin. Last year VHS was discovered in some of Wisconsin’s interior lakes.
If VHS moved into the Wisconsin River during the recent floods the entire Mississippi River basin would be at risk. This Chicago Tribune graphic illustrates the rapid spread of VHS as well as at-risk waters.